The Essentials of Modern Living

Posted in Humor on February 27th, 2010 by MadDog
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Along with all the fun which I derive from providing you with the finest daily entertainment on the planet comes a Public Responsibility. This is my burden. One might call it “The Funnyman’s Burden.” This gigantic ironwood cross which I bear daily as I trudge to the office to pound out yet another jewel of jibber-jabber is the burden of responsibility to inform  as well as to entertain. After all, entertainment void of information is as empty as Britney Spears’ head. (Oh, I’ll get comments on that one! ).

Which causes me to momentarily digress to inform you that the two posts, out of 736 so far, which have drawn the most comments were one in which I showed an image of Britney Spears with my dog, Sheba’s, tongue hanging from her mouth and another in which I featured an astonishingly stupid product called “Yoga Toes” which had absolutely nothing  to do with yoga. (Justin Friend, do not  comment on this!). At the risk of offending you, gentle reader, this fact does not reflect well on the sophistication of my audience.

My first informational item, as have all the others, comes from the astoundingly classy The Atlantic Monthly  magazine, a rag which I study with religious fervor. This amazing offer allows one to acquire an entire stamp collection (1 collection per order, please) at no cost whatsoever:

You should probably note that the stamps shown, while not exactly pricey, are still a teesny bit on the collectible side and therefore are probably not  the ones you will receive. They also fail to mention that any decent hobby stamp store will have bins of thousands of 50+ year old stamps which you can purchase by the wheelbarrow load for one cent each. Nevertheless, if you know absolutely nothing about stamps and want to get the worst possible start collecting them, why pass up the offer. They’re free,  for pity’s sake! And, you’ll have hours of fun pouring over the “sucker” catalog of over-priced stamps which you will suddenly crave to “complete” your collection.

This one is, really, so funny that I’m nearly at a loss for words.

My understanding is that Crusty the Clown is the founder of the Bow Tie Club, but my recollection may be erroneous. I have, on occasion, worn a dead-black bow tie, but only with a black dinner jacket, cumber-bun, diamond studs and a Walther P-38 tucked snugly under my belt in the small of my back, just where the ladies can feel it when I tango them into a swoon.

Speaking of swooning ladies, lay one of these on your main squeeze and see what happens:

You can honestly tell her that it is a genuine Diamondmumble.  It’s very important to mumble the Aura  part, unless, of course you simply want to lie about it. I’d be a little cautious about that, however, in case she ever decides she needs some quick cash and takes it to her favourite pawn broker. Most hock-shops also sell pistols – the nice little nickel-plated jobs that fit neatly into a purse or a dainty hand.

By the way, you can click on any of these to read the fine print. It’s intensely amusing.

And now for The Smartest Stupidest Watch on the Planet:

Really, come on! US$945?

You know, I never wear a watch unless I’m in the USA where you can be shot for not doing so. Upon arrival in America, I march as fast as my short little legs can carry me to the nearest Wal-Mart and buy the biggest, flashiest watch that I can find for less than $10. I tell people that it’s a Rolex while conveniently scratching my head so that they can’t really see it. Nobody ever asks, “A Rolex, eh? Let me have a look.” I usually end up paying about $6.99. That seems to be the price point. When I’m on the way to the gate to board a plane leaving the U. S. of A., I get rid of the watch. I used to try to give them away, but people started looking for the nearest security guard. Now I just toss it into a trash bin. Perhaps I should mention that, in Papua New Guinea, a watch is one of the least essential bits of personal paraphernalia.

Oh, how I love it when companies in the business of making us money on our precious retirement funds tell us how wonderful they are:

I call this one The Train to Nowhere.  If I need to explain, then you obviously have been dead broke for the last five years, eating out of dumpsters and sleeping in cardboard boxes under railroad trestles and have therefore been mercifully spared the agony of seeing your life’s savings dwindle to “Dinner at McDonald’s” proportions. Lucky you.

Okay, I’m the last guy who should be making fun of old folks. But, the stuff they buy! I mean, look at this thing. Does it look safe to you? Thank heaven it’s battery operated. I wouldn’t want to sit in the bath in something that looks like this which was plugged into a power socket:

Does it eject you from the bath? If so, with what force? You know, I was water boarded three times in my former career about which I can say nothing (whoops, I may have just done so). The guys used a device which looked very similar to this, although somewhat more crude. It wasn’t  battery operated. They were remarkably humorful about the whole thing. I haven’t heard such uproarious laughter since the time I shot myself in the leg with a .38 Special. Now that  was funny!

There’s something else vaguely discalming to me about this ad. How old were you when adults stopped giving you a bath? I seem to remember locking the bathroom door by the time I was five.

I have to admit that this is my sentimental favourite. This poor bumpkin has been holding this box of Italian lessons and scratching his head for at least two years. Not to be cruel – he is a hardworking farm boy  and in the Great American Dream he richly deserves  to be intimately associated with all manner of supermodels,  especially with those who speak only Italian. If only he could speak Italian, he could have his big chance. It’s a terrible thing to waste a massive libido:

The folks at RosettaStone will, in  a matter of days, have him Skyping her and whispering sweet nothings into her shell-like ears (she’s wearing a stereo headset). His rich baritone voice, roughened by years of tractor dust to a masculinity exceeded only by the likes of Charlton Heston, the late and much lamented former President of the National Rifle Association, will melt her with his quickly acquired Tuscan accent.

She will arrive at the family farm. They will marry with much fanfare. He will give up farming to sell insurance. She will, in an astonishing short period, gain 80 Kilograms. They will live happily ever after.

Ain’t life grand?

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The Computer That I REALLY Want!

Posted in Humor on November 20th, 2009 by MadDog
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I sit at my desk most days keeping at least two computers humming desperately to keep up with my demands. I have two screens and two keyboard/mouse inputs. I could use an automatic switch to use the same keyboard and mouse to control both computers, but that’s too easy. While I’m waiting for something to finish on one machine, I’ve started something else going on the other. It’s not that I’m such a whiz, it’s just that computers are so infernally stupid and slow. I constantly have to explain what I want in the most minute detail. And I have to do it with my decrepit old fingers.

I tried vioce recognition. Let me tell you. We’re just a hair’s breadth away from making that work. I’ve already dictated most of two magazine articles using the VR that’s built right into Windows 7. It works just fine, once you get it trained.

But why do I even have to talk? Here’s a sunrise to look at while you’re thinking about that bit of craziness:

Good morning sunshineI want a computer that’s built in. I don’t want to have to plug anything into my neck or my belly-button. When I’m stumbling down the street in Amsterdam, I want to be able to think, “Beelzeebubba, show me the way to my hotel.” You see, my computer’s name is a nonsense word that I’d be extremely unlikely to use normally. That’s how the computer knows that I’m asking it and not some stranger on the street or I have used its name in casual conversation. (except in the extremely unlikely case in which a telepath named Beelzeebubba happens to be standing close to me)  That’s why the old Star Trek  thing of saying, “Computer!” every time you want something from it won’t work. Every time you speak (or think) the word ‘computer’ the stupid thing answers back, “Huh?, Waddaya want?” You would certainly not want to name your computer Uhh or Hmm.

I should be able to ask questions like, “If I jumped out of this plane, how long would it be before I hit the ground?” The computer, knowing that I”m on United 12 from Kewanee to Kankakee (no such flight, by the way), knows exactly where I am and at what altitude. It also knows the elevation above sea level under the plane. It should come back with something like, “It will take three minutes and twelve seconds plus or minus five seconds with a 90% confidence level.”

I would be comforted by the knowing. Here’s another sunrise while you digest that:

Getting brighter - GO SUN!

My computer should be powered by my own metabolism. If Beelzeebubba seems a little sluggish, I just eat more and the peppiness will return. If I’m putting a little air in my spare tire (my tire is presently very spare), I just think, “Beelzeebubba, calculate the value of π to 10 googoplex places and send it to my CNN IReport account.” and I’ll lose a couple of kilos. The exertion of that task will consume some of my excess body fat and I’ll return to my svelte normality.

Here, calm your frayed nerves with this mind number (as in numbing your mind). Your hands will feel like two balloons:

The Torch

I want to be able to think, “Beelzeebubba, get me to Rangoon by Friday Noon and charge it to Bill Gates.” I would like to muse, “Beelzeebubba, could God be manipulating the universe through quantum entanglement?” (one of my pet theories) I would like to ponder, “Beelzeebubba, what do women want?”

Beelzeebubba would obey my commands and answer all of these questions and more. Here, stare at this a while. Stop when you feel dizzy:Good morning sunshineBeelzeebubba would communicate with me by direct connections to my optic, auditory and other essential nerve fibres. I’d ‘hear’ it speaking to me and ‘see’ what it wants to show me. The visual stuff would appear as a ‘heads up’ display in my field of vision. The spoken voice would sound like Olivia Newton-John. In the background there would always be the faint hum of roller skates.

Beelzeebubba would also monitor my state of health, if I want it to. Constant nagging about not smoking and “that’s enough beer” could be filtered out. “You are about to have a heart attack!”, I might not want to filter. Or maybe I would. It would, of course, perceive everything that I see, hear, touch, smell and taste. It would advise me if I were drinking the wrong wine with pressed duck. More sunrise action? Okay, have this one:Coconut Point SunriseThat’s Coconut Point.

I’d be able to command Beelzeebubba to, “Write me an article for Niugini Blue  called Heart of the Hunter.  Use what I’m currently thinking about as the theme. ( I now let my mind wander around in the subject matter.) Use the images that I’m imagining. Fill in any gaps in my knowledge from the web. Have it ready in a half-hour.”

In the evening, when I’m ready for some sack time, I could think, “Beelzeebubba, knock me out until 05:00. Schedule six variations of what I’m going to think about for the next sixty seconds as my dream sequence. Keep it clean and no violence or ethnic jokes. Oh, and I don’t want to hear anything about Britney Spears!”

That’s the computer that I want.

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Sheba – Princess of My Heart

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Opinions on February 20th, 2009 by MadDog
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If my wife is the Queen of My Heart (and she is), then my dog, Sheba, is the Princess.

What kind of blogger who loves his dog doesn’t feature his canine pal in a post occasionally? Heartless – that’s what it would be. I know she can’t read. She seldom browses the internet. But, in my heart, I know that she knows that I’m not giving her ample air-time. She can see it in my eyes.

We read each other well:

Sheba - Princess of My Heart

See what I mean. There is that listless accusing look that says, “You’re always talking about others. What am I? Chopped liver? Hey, wait! . . . mmmmmmm, chopped liver . . .”

She is a pretty little mongrel. I use the word “little” loosely. She probably weighs about thirty-five kilos. On a leash, it’s all I can manage just to hold her back. If she decides that she’s going somewhere, then I’m going also.

She’s about two years old now and I think she’s stopped growing. We almost lost her to a quack who called himself a veterinarian. What a charlatan! He’s been put on notice that it would be wise for him to stay away from Madang. He killed two animals the last time he was here and injured several more. You can plainly see the huge scar on her foreleg. It is just shiny black skin. I don’t think that she will ever have fur there again:

Sheba cooling her heels
She is easily the smartest and most trainable dog I have ever had. Most times, I don’t even have to say anything to her. If she can see me, all it takes is a gesture or a look and she knows what I want.

It is not that she is placid or lacks a will of her own. Sometimes she simply gets stubborn and I have to resort to shouting or get the whistle.

She is part Doberman, part German Shepherd, and part Rottweiler. There are probably a few others mixed in also. I truly believe that, in general, mongrels make the best pets. I’ve had purebreds and mutts. I love the mutts.

I am, after all, a mongrel myself.

You can get more of Sheba here, here, here, and here.

Woof!

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The Sea is RISING! . . . or IS It?

Posted in At Sea, Mixed Nuts on November 20th, 2008 by MadDog
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Ten years or so is nowhere near enough time to make any kind of statistically reliable statement about sea level changes. That’s unless the West Antarctic glob slithers into the sea or the Greenland ice cap gets all frayed and falls apart like an old baklava. If something like that happens, we’ll know Pretty Darn Quick!

However, I have for you today some interesting research from my boss’s boss (My wife is my boss – yes, kiddies – it’s quite literally true. This is from her boss.)

By the way, the following comes from someone whose interest in and knowledge of the sea is not to be sneezed at. Kyle and his wife, Kathy and their ship’s cat, Dory sailed a thirty foot boat from Moline, Illinois, down the Mississippi, across the Gulf of Mexico and all the way to Madang. You can read about it here.

Let me mention that Kyle and I are on rather opposite sides of the fence vis a vis the whole global warming kafuffle. I think that we’re doing very bad things to ourselves and we really ought to stop – or else! Kyle takes the view that the models have not shown to be anywhere near accurate, let alone predictive (look at the ranges!) and it wouldn’t do us much good to wreck the world economy and then find out it was mostly part of a natural cycle.

THIS FROM: Kyle Harris

I have been interested in the alleged affects of global warming on the sea level here in PNG so I was pleasantly surprised to find on line a collection of sea level data taken on Manus Island dating back to 1994.

SEAFRAME at Maunus Island

The tables give hourly sea level values for the entire year. The early years are a bit spotty with large holes in the data but later years are pretty much complete. (A full year of hourly readings comes to 8760 readings.)

Data
Year    Average  Points
1996      0.752    7120
1997      0.615    8719
1998      0.617    8735
1999      0.772    8740
2000      0.786    8784
2001      0.771    8760
2002      0.675    8760
2003      0.723    8349
2004      0.732    8784
2005      0.740    8760
2006      0.745    8760
2007      0.765    8760
Average   0.715

Having downloaded all the files, I ran a simple average on the yearly data from 1996 through 2007. I excluded the earlier years because of the large holes in the data. I then plotted the data to see if there were any discernible trends. The data shows a dip in the average sea level in 1997 and 1998, followed by a sharp increase of almost .2 meter for the following three years. Then there is another dip followed by a gradual increase through 2007.

Chart of the SEAFRAME data

Chart of the SEAFRAME data

In trying to make sense of the data for 1996 though 2002, I checked the NOAA web site for el Niño and la Niña data. During La Niña years, the Southeast trade winds in the South Pacific are stronger than normal. This pushes the water in the Pacific westward and results in a “piling up” of the water in the Western Pacific. The opposite is true in el Niño years. So one would expect years of strong la Niña would correspond to higher than normal sea levels while years of strong el Niño would correspond to lower than normal levels.

The NOAA Data

The NOAA Data

According to NOAA there was a strong el Niño in 1997 and 1998 followed by a strong la Niñael Niño again in 2002. Since then there have been short-lived el Niño and la Niña which started the end of 2007 and which ended in 2008. starting the second half of 1998 and finishing the first part of 2001. There was a medium strength events but nothing too significant. There was a fairly strong

The el Niño in 1997 and 1998 seem to correspond to the dip in sea levels of the corresponding period. And, the quick rise in sea levels immediately thereafter correspond to the lengthy la Niña event. This is followed by another el Niño and another dip in average sea levels. Since 2002 we have seen a gradual increase in the average sea levels of approximately 1.5 inches total.

I realize that this is a quick and dirty analysis but I believe it does illustrate the difficulty in quantifying sea levels over the short term.

While it is fashionable to jump on the climate change bandwagon to explain sea level variation, there may be other factors at work such as el Niño and la Niña and subsidence associated with plate movement that may explain at least some of the changes in the observed data.

Whew!

We all have anecdotes concerning the imminent danger of loosing our front yards to the sea (at the very least). I would be willing to swear by Britney Spears‘ Jeans that the water in front of my house has risen by at least ten centimetres in the twenty years or so that I’ve lived there.

However, there may be another explanation for this.

I worked for a couple of weeks on Miss Rankin while some scientists were traipsing around studying the effects of ancient tsunami. One of them told me that Madang (essentially the armpit of Astrolabe Bay – and I mean that in a geographical sense) is on one end of a big raft of geology that is sinking while the other end (up around the cape, I think) is rising. How much and how fast, I don’t remember.

So much for science.

It still seems to me that my front yard is disappearing at an alarming rate. I may have to learn to do the Jesus Walk even before I’m taken up into the clouds.

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